Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

First Best Friend (Jump His Bike But Not His Big Sister)

(Falcon Part Four is available at my story blog)

The mud wars took place in the larger of the two ponds. A sleepover including a few other guys led us to the smaller one, and one of the most memorable Chris’ farm days.

Everybody brought his bicycle. At first, we just rode around in the fields, on the pond levees, and in the woods. One of the guys accidentally hit a large hole that stopped his bike cold and sent him over the handlebars. After he hit the ground face-down, the seat came over and hit him in the back of the head. We called it an “endo,” BMX terminology shorthand for “end over end.” Being boys, we made a game of it. We all gave it a try, and took pictures, but I can’t find them.

Then someone got the bright idea to build a ramp in front of the smaller and shallower pond.

We placed the ramp close enough to the water that even those who caught little air wouldn’t hit the ground. It wasn’t a problem, though; a hill led down to the pond, so building up speed for the ramp was easy. The rider sped to the ramp, pulled up slightly on the handlebars, and then enjoyed maybe a second of airtime before splashing down in the stagnant brown water.

The day is not fresh enough in my memory to quote much dialogue, but etched indelibly in my mind is the cry that often rang out after a splashdown.

“Where’s my bike?”

This resulted when the rider, due to the impact and the moisture, fell from and lost track of his bike under water.

I repeated this stunt, sans ramp, at an under-used apartment complex pool, at age 15. Much cleaner water. Same bike. I could see it if I lost track of it.

Pumping gas before leaving town once, I saw a man pull out a can of Skoal dipping tobacco and slap it against his thigh a few times. He carefully pulled off the lid and pinched a wad of tobacco, then pushed it down between his gums and his cheek. He wasn’t as good-looking as the first woman I saw doing that.

From an early age, I had a crush on Chris’ sister. Lori was about six or seven years older than we were, and she loved to ride horses. She had long, flowing blond hair, and smooth, unmottled skin. Her hands were fairly calloused because she was not the kind of farm girl to stay inside learning domestic skills. Lori worked with the animals, the hay, and performed other farm duties.

To my misfortune, she also dipped tobacco.

I didn’t like tobacco of any form, but since Cupid came around any time I was near Lori, my mind was in a smoky haze. One day when she was letting us ride her horse, she gave me what was left from a can of Skoal. It tasted disgusting and had no effect on me. Later, as I sat atop the horse, she gave me some from a fresh can. I felt dizzy and nauseated shortly after partaking, and probably much of that was thanks to my failure to spit often. Nevertheless, I looked forward to seeing Lori when I went to visit Chris.

By our teen years, my crush on Lori had died, thanks mostly to my inability to be enamored by a woman who dipped. She was married to a man who worked a job laying pipeline in Alaska or some such faraway land, which left Lori alone for long stretches. When Chris and I visited her home, a forest cabin, she explained that she had no running water, and showed us the steep hill she had to trudge down and up to fill her containers in the stream. I had never known anyone in our generation to do that.

I’ve heard it said one can never go home. When I return to my hometown for holidays, I inevitably end up making a trip to Wal-Mart, the only retail discount store in town. It’s a bit disheartening to walk around a store that large, with people at every turn, and see nobody I recognize.

Except Lori.

More times than not, I bump into her when I go there. She gives me an update on her family, and we exchange a few pleasantries before going our respective ways. She’s a very nice woman, and I’m glad that through Chris I got to know her.

10 Responses to First Best Friend (Jump His Bike But Not His Big Sister)

  1. Tobacco of any kind is just about the biggest turn off for me. My relationship with my wife was only a couple days old when I found out that she smoked. My wife and stepdad were shocked, knowing full well how anathema the habit always has been to me. I never pressured her directly, but she knew my attitude towards smoking and ended up quitting cold turkey after about a month or two. Completely disgusts her now, especially after having kids!

  2. Simon – Yeah, even though both of my parents smoked while I was growing up, I cannot stand the smell. It’s one reason I rarely went out to local clubs to see live bands. I just can’t stand to be around the smoke. Even a quick stop at a Quik Stop has me smelling enough like smoke to make me want to change clothes.

    Glad you had such an easy time getting your one true love to come over from the dark side.

  3. You sayin’ my sis is a wally world ho? I’ll kick your ass bitch.

    Ok, maybe not.

    It’s fun to see our childhood through your eyes, keep it up. We’re lucky we didn’t catch something from that pond. There’s no way in hell I’d do that now. In fact I have an understandable aversion to bicycles now.


  4. *L* Same here… my parents and brother all smoked (back then) but no more.

    I’ve never, NEVER smoked a cigarette, nor would I ever. When I met my wife, she smoked, but not much, but I made it clear if she wanted to continue to see me, she’d have to quit.
    She did, and we celebrated 26 years together this past April.

    Excellent story though….

  5. Christopher – If she’s a wally world ho, then I’m a wally world bubba. Maybe our immune systems are so strong now because we slogged around in there (I’m talking about the pond). I’m glad you brought up your aversion to bicycles. That reminds me of one of your most notable physical traits, and of course I must write it up.

    Dave – Interesting how close your story is to Simon’s, regarding the wife smoking. When I met my wife, I knew she was smoking, but not with cigarettes.

    Sorry, everybody.

  6. Mark, that last is another comment to make up for yelling at her in the car while you were on the cell phone, wasn’t it? I’m married too; I can tell these things.

  7. Oh good grief… what a suck-up you are! *LOL* Is she still mad at you for your “Date Night”?????

  8. Man, those were the days weren’t they? I can think of a few other good Cockrell farm stories, and I hope we get to see them too.

    I’m always amazed at the people I see in the Wal-Mart in our hold hometown too. You have to set aside time to chat when you go in there, and I’m never prepared, because it’s usually a last second run for something for a meal that takes me there.

    I’ve seen Lori in there a few times myself. I’d say I run into my high school sweetheart in there at least every other time. I think we could just hang out at the Wal-Mart for a few hours and know just about everything there is to know about what’s going on around there.

    Do you remember Lori’s Farrah doo? She had that nailed. LOL

  9. Simon and Dave – Well, that wasn’t my intent, but aw shucks, if it works, then so be it.

    Chuck – Wal-Mart is pretty much the only place to buy stuff in that town, so it’s a definite people magnet.

    She out-Farrah’ed miss Fawcett.

  10. Lori out Farrah’ed miss Fawcett? Alrighty…

    I wonder how she is doing these days? And Buck, too.

    I may eventually have to write up some of my childhood adventures.


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